Arguably the most beloved movie of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life performs at DreamWrights this holiday season. Perhaps it is so well loved because everyone can relate to eternal optimist, George Bailey, who once dreamed of leaving small town life and changing the world. When he becomes disenchanted with his achievements in life, George’s guardian angel, Clarence, steps in to reveal what life would be like in that small town without him. Guest Director, Jaci Keagy explains, “There are certain stories that are iconic in the fabric of American life and this is one of them. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring this story to life.”
York College Chemistry Professor, Bill Steel plays George Bailey and says that he is amazed by how many people tell him that watching It’s a Wonderful Life with their family is part of their holiday tradition. “It really raises the stakes for me to play George Bailey.” Steel says that because the play version is so similar to the movie, he thinks a lot about Jimmy Stewart’s performance. “What parts can we honor, and where do we have the chance to take a slightly different impression on George’s personality or how he came to his conundrum?”
Steel says that playing this role has also made him reflect on his own life and decisions. “We all touch so many other lives. I think about that through the lens of George Bailey. Every time he thinks he’s made a decision that he personally laments or regrets, like sticking around in Bedford Falls, he ultimately comes to appreciate all that it means to him.”
Pat Hart, who plays Clarence, sees his character as George’s alter ego. “He challenges George to look at what his life is really about,” Hart explains. “Clarence is a funny character but at the same time it’s a very serious time between he and George, talking about life and death events.” Hart says the message he wants the production to impart on its viewers contains all the elements of a perfect holiday message: the importance of Christmas, the importance of spiritual life, the wonder of it all, and the love of family. Keagy adds, “I hope people leave feeling positive about the goodness of individuals, a reminder about the sense of community and belonging that a small town can provide and the important lesson that being rich has nothing to do with money.”
It’s a Wonderful Life opens Friday, December 1 and runs Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 6:30 pm and December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 2:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 717-848-8623. Advance seats cost $10 for general, $14 for reserved. General admission seats at the door cost $12.